Taking Time for Yourself: 10 Activities to Relieve Stress

Taking Time for Yourself: 10 Activities to Relieve Stress
Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Work takes a lot out of you, especially during those long hours when you’re trying to create the best possible product. It’s important to relieve stress throughout the day to let your brain refresh itself though, or even take a day on the weekend to rejuvenate yourself for the upcoming week.

Below are some fun activities that you can do to relieve stress, ranging from ones that take about an hour to several hours.

Adult Coloring Books

Taking Time for Yourself: 10 Activities to Relieve Stress

This activity might sound like something you would tell a child to do rather than an adult, but coloring does in fact relieve stress. It allows your brain and your body to relax, possibly improving sleep and fatigue. It can also decrease heart rate and anxiety, so it’s the perfect distraction from a big report that is weighing on you, or even an idea pitch.

Coloring pages or books can be found anywhere too, whether it be printed out that day or purchased from a store. All you need is an image to color and some sort of art supply. I personally lean more towards permanent markers or colored pencils, but anything that has a range of colors can work.

Painting Your Nails

If you don’t normally paint your nails, perhaps today is the perfect time to sit down and put some color on your hands. Though you want to make sure your nails look good, it forces you to stop thinking about work problems and instead focus on putting the polish onto each nail.

Not only have you stopped thinking about work, but you are taking time to improve your image. This can improve your confidence and mood, just because you took fifteen minutes out of your day to take care of yourself. I would recommend for those people who don’t want to wait forever to let their nails dry to invest in quick-drying nail polish, as it takes much less time to complete.

Listening/Dancing to Music

Sometimes a dance break is just what we need. Similar to Meredith in Grey’s Anatomy, cranking up your favorite song and jumping around can loosen those tense muscles as well as make you laugh. Be as goofy as you need, and just be in the moment with the music.

Even just listening to music can impact your mood. By listening to more upbeat songs you will become more positive and optimistic about life. Or, you can listen to slower tempo songs which will quiet your mind and your muscles after a long stressful day.

Taking a Bath

Taking Time for Yourself: 10 Activities to Relieve Stress
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Sometimes those stubborn muscles will not release, even with other calming activities. If this is the case, you might need to just set aside an hour and take a hot, steaming bath. The water will ease your mind, especially if you put in a scented bubble bath or light a scented candle.

This method is proven to work, as studies have shown that a bath can activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation. Baths can even help with anxiety and depression, because it forces your body to deal with these issues in a different way. So, if you just had a really terrible day, go take a bath.

Cleaning a Crowded Room

Taking Time for Yourself: 10 Activities to Relieve Stress
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This activity may not seem to relieve stress, but it will definitely take your mind off of work. By cleaning either your bedroom or a crowded room you’ve been avoiding, it forces the mind to focus on the task at hand rather than your day at work. It will also make your house look better in the end, possibly reducing your stress surrounding your living space.

Learning a New Recipe

Taking Time for Yourself: 10 Activities to Relieve Stress
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Again, this one seems a little counterintuitive. Why struggle through a recipe if you don’t know if it’ll taste good, or if you’ll be able to execute it correctly? Maybe don’t choose a completely new recipe then – find a family favorite you haven’t tried before. Or maybe just make a favorite food you have always enjoyed. In any case, the physical motions of pouring, measuring, and cutting will take you away from your day at work. Plus the repetitive motions of chopping or stirring becomes meditative.

The smell of the cooking food can also be beneficial as it may draw on past memories of cooking with a loved one. Soon your day will be the farthest thing from your mind as you make delicious food to eat by yourself or share with another.

Dressing Up in Nicer Clothes


Dress clothes are often a nuisance – trying to find the right size, making sure they are not wrinkly, and figuring out what event goes with what clothes. It can be exhausting. But, when you do take the time to dress up, taking care of your image, it can improve your confidence. I know whenever I put a little makeup on, do my hair, and put on fancier clothes I really enjoy how confident I feel.

If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, or just a little self-conscious maybe dress up in nicer clothes. Or better yet do a fashion show and remind yourself that you are the best you. This could also be a fun experiment to do with friends, as you can hype each other up and pick out clothes for another person. By the time you’re done work will be the furthest thing in your mind.

Reading a Book

Taking Time for Yourself: 10 Activities to Relieve Stress
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This is by far my favorite way to relieve stress after a long day. I usually lean more towards science fiction, fantasy, or thriller novels but any genre will work. By taking yourself out of the equation completely by focusing on another character or world, you will lessen the amount of stress related to work.

A study done in Sussex has proven that you can relieve stress in as little as six minutes while reading, by up to 68%. The book doesn’t even need to be challenging – it can be whatever you want to read, maybe even just a magazine or online journal. The main point is to read something that interests you so that all the stress just dissolves.

Starting a New Hobby

Hobbies are a good tool to relieve stress, especially if your job is taxing. Many hobbies can be small, like knitting or doing a puzzle. Others can be more intense, such as learning an instrument. But the most important thing about hobbies is that they pull you away from your stress to something enjoyable. Yes, hobbies can be frustrating if they become difficult but it’s an outlet to direct your stress at figuring something out.

By starting a new hobby, you can explore another side of yourself. Maybe you never knew how much you enjoyed painting or knitting until now. Or maybe you have figured out that puzzles are not for you. Whatever hobby you choose though will be rewarding, because you can show others a new accomplishment – look what I learned!

At-home Spa Day

Taking Time for Yourself: 10 Activities to Relieve Stress
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Last, but not least, you can always dedicate a whole day on the weekend for a spa day. Whether at home or at an establishment, spas will work out all of the stress and anxiety you have sitting in your body. This is one of the most well-known ways to relieve stress.

If you choose to do an at-home spa day, you can buy spa kits off of Amazon, or even just pick out your favorite items and use just those. The best part is that you can choose how to relax and use your spa day. Maybe it’s taking a bath with a face mask on, or maybe you and your friend are painting each other’s nails with face masks. As long as you’re having fun, go for it.

The Importance of Relieving Stress

Whatever you choose to do after a stressful day at work, make sure it’s enjoyable. Even taking a few minutes out of your day to read or work on a puzzle will help keep your mind and body balanced. Staying stressed will only burn you out, and hurt you in the long run. So, make sure to have “you time” whatever that may look like.

Alexandria is a News Editor, writer, and reader of all things literature. She graduated from the State University of... More about Alexandria Wyckoff

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